As recently as ten days ago, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest Brexit deal was looking like “a disaster,” with multiple ministers in her government resigning in outrage. Also, Spain was stonewalling the proposal while they angled for some advantages regarding Britain’s position regarding Gibraltar.
What a difference two weeks makes, eh? Or at least it’s possible that this scheme might succeed. The EU has now voted to accept the last deal on the table after Spain got what they wanted out of negotiations with the Brits over Gibraltar. With those agreements in place, barring any 11th-hour hijinks, May should have her deal to take home to London. (CNN)
All 27 remaining European Union leaders signed off Britain’s Brexit agreement with mixed emotions at a special summit on Sunday — but the deal’s real test is yet to come.
While EU leaders mourned a “sad day” in the bloc’s decades-long history, UK Prime Minister Theresa May disagreed, saying “I am full of optimism.”
Less than an hour after members gathered in Brussels, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that they had endorsed the “Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future EU-UK relations.”
So it’s a done deal and time to pop open the champagne bottles at 10 Downing Street, right? Not even close.
This wasn’t the end of the Brexit deal. It only signifies the EU accepting the proposal that May put on the table. Now she has to go home and sell it to Parliament. Back there she has the opposition Remainers waiting to vote against the deal and a significant number of members of her own coalition threatening to vote against it. If they bring it up for a floor vote and it fails, all of this muss and fuss with the EU was for nothing.
So what then? If the deal makes it through the British Parliament, the EU Parliament will almost certainly approve it and Brexit moves forward. But if the vote fails, several unpleasant scenarios await the ruling coalition in London. One possibility would be the “no deal Brexit” which everyone seems to dread. It gets the Brits out of the EU but leaves them scrambling to forge trade, travel and other diplomatic deals with everyone in Europe.
Even more worrying for May is that such a collapse could cause Parliament to reach the end of their patience and she would either be forced to resign as PM or be shoved out in a new round of elections. That scenario could also lead to the Remain contingent getting their wish and scheduling another national referendum on Brexit. If the Remainers prevail, then all these years of sound and fury will have been for nothing and the Brits will remain in the European Union.
Given all of that, it doesn’t sound like Theresa May will be returning home to a ticker tape parade and a bright future as Britain’s leader. Even worse, the Tories’ eight years of rule could be drawing to a close. Be patient, because none of these questions look likely to be settled this year.